Lower Back Pain, #1 Most Common Reason for Adult Visits to Doctors in
The Unites States
According to Mayo Clinic, joint disorders and back pain are the at the top of the 10 most common reasons for visits to health care providers in the United States, only preceded by skin conditions on patients 18 years old or younger. Which means most adults visit a PCP (Primary Care Physician) or MD (Medical Doctor) for something the chiropractor can fix!
According the Mayo Clinic’s study, at least 1/3 of Americans reported having joint pain. This joint pain can be caused by various conditions, including osteoarthritis—the most common form of arthritis in the US—and often worsens with age, because of daily activities and repetitive use of certain joints. While osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body, it most frequently affects the joints in your knees, hips, hands and spine, those are the joints we need to use in order to perform simple functions, such as walking, typing, driving, transitioning from sitting to standing, and all the movements we do at school, work, and sports.
Back problems win third place in reasons for doctor visits in the US. Each year, millions of Americans suffer from back pain, making it one of the leading causes of disability, resulting in a major personal, financial, and even public health burden.
Back pain may be a dull ache, shooting pain or a burning sensation in the neck, middle back or lower back. Treatment for back pain varies based on the type of injury and the nerves or joints affected, while some severe cases require surgery, more often than not, chiropractic care can help alleviate this back pain through manipulations to help move the moves to their correct position and therapy to decrease inflammation of the soft tissue and speed up the healing process. The big difference with chiropractic care combined with good physical therapy is it gets to the cause of the problem (preventing worsening arthritis and inflammation) vs just masking the symptoms with pills or shots that have bad side effects and don’t address the cause of the pain, inflammation, arthritis, etc.
Missing Work Can Be A Pain in the Neck (or Back)!
People miss work for different reasons, and back pain is among some of the most common causes of absences.
Injuries, car accidents, falls, work injuries, result in work absences. In addition to acute injuries, chronic injuries, such as neck and back problems are a common cause of absenteeism. Missing workdays can affect you as an employee because it lowers your productivity and it might take up part of your vacation time or you may take a no-pay day off because you are unable to perform your work related duties. However, it also affects the overall productivity and morale of the workplace, which overtime becomes a costly loss to the employer. In the United States, this loss was valued at over $84 billion in 2013 alone! You can estimate this number only increases year after year.
Lower Back Pain Causes and Options
If you suffer from lower back pain, you have a few treatment options:
Give it time- but unfortunately, this only allows your body to learn how to get used to the problem, time doesn’t really fix the problem, your brain learns to adapt to its new “normal”, and in the meantime, the problem continues to worsen.
Take an over the counter pain killer- when in some cases this is helpful to allow you to function without feeling the pain, this is not a real fix to the problem. A pain killer only numbs your body so you don’t feel the pain, but the problem remains, and because pain acts as an alarm to let you know “something is wrong, fix me, don’t keep bending over because it hurts”, if you don’t get that alarm, you will most likely keep on bending over and over and over, making your condition worse. It’s like when the check engine light goes off in your car, and instead of taking your car to a mechanic to take a look and find out what’s wrong, you take a piece of black tape and cover the check engine light and you think the car no longer has a problem.
Go to the ER- guaranteed you’ll get 2 prescription meds: a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory, and you must take them every few hours, and if you are lucky, every few days, but why? Because pain is a sign of inflammation and muscles get tight around it. They might take an x-ray of your back and tell you “everything looks normal, no broken bones or fractures” (even though you’re in pain, and you’re trying to get help) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which will identify potential disc issues.
When you have pain you’re feeling a nerve, and for you to feel a nerve it has to be pinched, and since the nerves are the cables that communicate your brain with the rest of your body to allow it to function and feel, when they get pinched it happens at the spine, the bones moves out of alignment and press the nerves, causing you to get a sensation (an alarm to do something, pain). And the muscle relaxer helps, you guessed it- to loosen up a tight muscle. Muscles tight up as a defense mechanism to protect what is beneath it, for example, if someone tells you they’re about to punch him on the stomach, you automatically tight up his stomach, your abdominals become tight to act as a shield and protect your organs from pain and getting the air knock out of you. Just like that, when a bone of the spine is out of its normal position (out of alignment), it presses the nerve that travels in between the vertebrae, and the muscles around that area tighten up as defense mechanism to protect that pinched nerve from further damage.
Taking a pain killer to numb the pain and a muscle relaxer for your tight muscles, will work, but only for a few hours or a few days, because it covers the symptoms, but doesn’t address the real cause of the problem. Neither pill moves your bones to place them in the correct alignment to take the pressure off the nerve. So it’ll be like putting a tight rubber band around your finger (your finger represents the nerve and the rubber band the bone pinching it), this will make your finger get swollen, warm (increase of blood supply to the area, raises the temperature, causing inflammation), and if only take 2 pills without taking the rubber band off, the problem still remains, you just covered up the symptoms! It makes more sense to remove the rubber band and fix the root of the problem, taking away your symptoms too.
Chiropractic care- a doctor specialized in the joints and spine will apply movement to the bones to put them in the correct position and allow normal function, taking the pressure off the nerves and allowing your brain to send messages through your nervous system to communicate properly with the rest of your body, by doing so, the muscles surrounding the area wont be as tight because there’s no need to guard any pinched nerves anymore if the bones are in alignment. Your posture and movement will improve, inflammation fades away, and pain decreases. All that without the use of harmful medications that damage your stomach, kidneys, and liver, make you sleepy, and create dependency. Physical therapy can help the muscles heal faster and keep the bones in their new position.
Preventing Back Pain
Some injuries, like accidents, are simply unavoidable, they can be the result of an auto accident, like getting rear-ended while you were stopped at the red light or t-boned by a negligent driver who runs a red light, or tripping in a pot hole in the parking lot, or falling on your knee while trying to rescue your kid from getting hurt.
Our bodies are like a car, a car needs maintenance care, you do oil changes every 3000 miles to prevent transmission problems in the future and keep the engine running well. Or like a house, you take care of repairs that come up here and there. Imagine comparing 2 brand new houses, next door neighbors, after 10 years:
House A. Owner kept up with house repairs, such as replacing light bulbs as needed, did the lawn a few times a month and killed weeds off the front garden, plumbing issues in a bathroom were handled after an issue happened.
House B. Owner thought that a new house is good forever, and nothing needed to be repaired, even if things broke down, nothing got fixed, he would one stopped using whatever didn’t work anymore.
House A would like nice, “normal”, well kept and decent. House B would be a disaster, the lawn would look like a jungle and if it hasn’t overgrown the house, you might see the pain chipping off from the front door, dust and spider webs all over the front porch, and it will give you the impression that it’s an “abandoned” or vacant house, that no one lives there to take care of it.
Our bodies are just like a house, time and use will eventually take its toll, and we need to take care of the only body we have. From the time we are born to the time we learnt to ride our bike as a kid, we have endured MANY falls, many injuries, which eventually- typically by the time we are 40 years old- we start to notice.
Take care of our back and spine by having good posture, to allow your muscles and ligaments to work properly. Avoid slouching when sitting at a desk at school or work. Avoid carrying heavy weight unevenly, like kids carrying their backpack and a woman carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder.
Maintaining a healthy weight through good eating habits and supplements, followed by low impact exercise (swimming, biking) and light stretching routine, can improve spine health. High impact exercises, like running and cross-fit can lead to joint pain.
Get regular chiropractic adjustments, a tune up once a month can prevent future irreversible pain and safe you money, time, and energy years ahead.
At our office we love to make patients feel comfortable, when it comes to your health care, each individual is entitled to find the most suitable option, everyone has a different body and preferences, we don’t treat everyone the same, we have customized plans and payment options for everyone, so you are the patient and you can decide what works best for you. Call us at 972-424-2225, we are happy to answer any questions, and if you would like a free consultation with Dr. Fulcher, our chiropractor, call to schedule an appointment, we have flexible hours 6 days a week, and open Saturdays.